CALMA Highlight of the Week: Alejandro Chavez, Research Assistant

1. What is your favorite aspect of CALMA?

My favorite aspect of CALMA I would say has more to do with the research lab’s greater, overarching purpose that it proposes itself to achieve rather than something that I do or help with first-hand. The fact that this team dedicates not only to advance research in the mental health field, but that it seeks to aid the greater, general mental health and research disparities that exist. Our ability to connect with rural, underrepresented communities and connect them with resources; our ability to educate, to provide outreach opportunities, and to slowly shift common misconceptions and fears about what is and isn’t, is what I find enriching. That to me is pride-worthy.

2. What inspired your passion to pursue Psychology?

What inspired me to pursue psychology, I’d say has a lot to do with the way I was raised. However, and as our field is notoriously known for, there really isn’t one thing that pushed me to become study and do the work that I do, but rather its a multitude of factors. My family, friends, teachers, my personal growth, my spiritual and religious upbringings, political and human-rights beliefs, difficulties. Life. They all did and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

3. How do you want to best continue your research/ Psych interests in the future?

I see myself, without a shadow of a doubt, as practicing clinical psychologist — not a researcher or a professor. A psychotherapist. I want to help people grow and see themselves in positive ways unimaginable to them. Most importantly, I know that I see myself helping people recover from trauma, suicidality, depression, and abuse. I don’t want to put a label to anything because everything presents itself in so many different ways. These categories themselves are broad and non-binary; they lie on a continuum and thus want to do my best to extend services to anyone who feels that needs help. I do know, however, that life and reality will make that difficult — educational expenses, making a living for myself — but I will do my best to try and accommodate to anyone who needs my services to the best of abilities depending on the varying barriers that may present themselves at given points in time.

4. Why do you think a focus on mental health and culture is important?

I like to think that a focus on mental health and culture is important because they very much go hand-in-hand. I, for one, when I think of the two tend to focus on the negatives —- stress and its consequential role on the mind and body; the constant pressure to conform, adapt and tackle challenges and milestones as they present themselves. You name it, they are all very much connected and thus, incredibly important to study, promote awareness, and push for new policy. I think that we live in a time of desperate need for reformation given our world’s current state of awareness, education, media and connection. We’re aware of these things and it is thus our responsibility to do something about it. I could really go on and on about this because it fascinates me. I just find it baffling that we take these concerns for granted often thinking that its just the result of living in a “competitive” world, almost as if we’re constantly throwing subtle Darwinian shade at one another because we feel the need to be more than the other, or simply the need to make a living nowadays. The competition is so blatant and its only going to continue to increase. … I’m not sure if you can see where I am going with this (haha). Really though, there is so much to talk about and research. We just have to think outside the box a bit. It truly is fascinating.

5. If you had to describe yourself as a food what would it be and why?

That is perhaps the most odd question I have ever seen that I really don’t know how to respond to that (ha). Uhh .. Fettuccine Alfredo because .. I… love it? I don’t know. Oh! and side note: Did you know that Fettuccine Alfredo isn’t even authentically Italian? Like what?! I’m still in shock (lol). I really do love Fettuccine Alfredo though, not going to lie.